The Rules of Home Recording

Originally posted on The Recording Message Board by
old dan, Mike F, Mike A., Percy, s’boy & Silent Bob


Rule number 1. You will never have enough tracks. It doesn’t matter how many tracks you have. To calculate the number of tracks you need; take the number of tracks you have available and add 1. This should be one less than what you will need. Minimum

Rule number 2. You will never have the cables and/or adapters you need. If you need a cable with a ¼ adapter on one end and an XLR on the other, guess what? You won’t have it. Or it will be broken.

Rule number 3. You will never have the equipment you need. Or if you do, it will never work the way you need it to, if at all. Operator error also enters into this.

Rule number 4. No matter how carefully you lay your cables and wires they will get tangled up. Badly. This is more of a law than a rule. Kind of like the law of gravity (which may have something to do with it), Why do you think they can sell pieces of plastic with Velcro on it, call it a ‘cable wrap’ and charge 20 bucks for it. Those plastic things with slots are just as useless, but more expensive. The best thing to do is to give in to the inevitable and throw the wires around anywhere you want. Tape and label the ends first tho, even tho it won’t help.

Rule number 5. No matter how you lay out your studio, or where you place your equipment, the cable you need will always be 6 inches too short

Rule number 6. The medium you choose to record with will be the wrong one. Doesn’t matter what you choose, DAT, tape, MD, HDR, etc. It is kind of like Murphy’s law of purchase: No matter how good of a deal you got or how great your new machine sounds, it is a given that you will hear a better sounding recording on a different medium. Usually within a week. Or less.

Rule number 7. Your own recordings will never sound as good as someone else’s. Also, there will always be at least 1 thing wrong. Usually more. And everything you ‘fix’ will screw something else up.

Rule number 8. There is no overdub too simple to screw up. Corollary: You always record one too many takes before making a backup. And the best “take” you ever lay down will be when the RECORD button wasn’t pushed.

Rule number 9. When you are recording yourself (vocals /guitar /bass /whatever) through a microphone and you are really cooking, so hot your pants are smoking, the phone will ring, the dog will bark, the furnace will kick in, you will burp, fart, etc.

Rule number 10. You have a great jam, and by the time you find a blank tape to record it on everyone has forgotten what it sounded like.

Rule number 11. You will never be ready to record. It doesn’t matter how prepared you think you are. Either you are out of tape (see rule #10), or you packed a mic or compressor or whatever and now can’t find it (also see rule #3). If by some miracle you do get all the equipment together, then the singer will have a sore throat, a guitar string will break etc. Or by the time you get everything together, everyone leaves. As Roseanna Roseannadanna’s father said, “it’s always something’.